Category Archives: Frugal Living

Vintage Children’s Literature Illustration Notebooks

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Handy Dandy Notebooks

I like the look of vintage children’s literature illustration and so I decided to re-purpose an old collection of bedtime stories into handy notebooks. These books make nice little gifts and are pretty useful if you’re a daily list-maker. You could use any images for the covers, really the possibilities are endless. I plan to make some using maps once I run out of the children’s lit ones.

How to: Instructions are listed along with the photos.

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An un-Piggy Bank

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I was trying to come up with something for a Valentine’s Day gift. I’m always a fan of handmade items, and I don’t think that gifts should have to cost a heck of a lot to be meaningful or valuable so frugal options present a welcome challenge for me.

That’s when it hit me. My valentine is really into saving money lately, a different jar or container for a different purpose, and so I got it in my head that I would craft him a piggy-bank. I decided I was going to join a pottery class (I have missed working with clay and the prospect of using my class time to make a gift seemed like a dual purpose idea). Then life got in the way, as it always does, and that idea flew by the wayside.

I was shopping at a thrift store and found a really neat piggy bank made of clay with a cork for a nose (and momentarily re-visited the idea in my head of joining a pottery class). Beside this piggy was another neato swine with designs on the outside that reminded me of folk art. I really liked these and stood in front of them for a while but just couldn’t make the purchase, mostly because it seemed too easy (I enjoy the problem solving that comes with trying to make stuff with my hands) and these particular pieces didn’t remind me of my valentine.

apple juice

Then I went grocery shopping. I found this yummy looking (and not so frugal) organic apple juice in what I would deem to be a rather attractive glass jug. Using the jug’s potential as a re-gifted item, I splurged on the juice and drank it down. After removing the label and cleaning up the jug, it was ready for decoration. I wanted it to be opaque so that he couldn’t see how much was inside-keep that a mystery until the fateful day he gets to shake out the treasure and examine his small fortune.

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How to:

1. Find yourself an attractive vessel in which to toss your spare change (coffee tins and glass jars work well if you’re into old-fashioned simplicity).

2. Empty the contents inside if it’s full.

3. Clean it out if there is any food content to me removed. For removing the label, this particular jug was easy because this company only uses two small smears of adhesive to attach the label at each end of the paper. Mason jars that are used for pasta sauces might give you a harder time because they tend to go overboard with the adhesive leaving a sticky mess.

4. For sticky adhesive issues, I read online and found many people recommending products just for that very purpose. I usually just leave them to soak in a hot soapy sink of water, remove the paper label and remove what I can with my fingernails. The I’ll leave them in for a longer hot soak and if I need to, I’ll run a pairing knife blade up and down the jar sides to remove the tougher stuff.

5. I rubbed the outside of the jar with rubbing alcohol to remove any oils that might cause stuff to not stick to the jar (after all glass is a slippery surface).

6. Next I decided to use a decoupage paste (basically a white gluey mixture, in fact, I bet you could just as easily use white glue) to paste on a layer of natural brown tissue paper. I chose a decoupage that was described as “matte” finish because I didn’t want this project to be too shiny. I would have preferred using wall paper paste (popular for paper-mache) but the store I shopped at didn’t sell it.

7. After your first layer dries, paint it, or paste other pictures onto it: perhaps pictures of things to save for or inspiring things that are nice to look at.

8. Put the lid on (or don’t) and for a classic piggy-bank feel, use a flat-head screw driver and hammer to create a gap in the lid for coins to slide through.

Rustic Renovation

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Mirror

This post is about a project a friend of mine just finished. She was staring at her bathroom walls and was struck by how bleakly blank they were. Although the white painted walls helped keep the bathroom bright, there was something cold about it.

She’s a frugal gal and so she decided she would need to work within a tight budget to spruce up her bathroom. She went to the local lumber yard and asked if she could rummage through their piles of discarded wooden slats (used to separate piled lumber). They gladly obliged and she scavenged all of her materials for this project for free. The slats are no thicker than 1/8″.

She took down her mirror and towel rack and simply stapled the pieces onto the wall (though she adds that if she did it again she’d use finishing nails next time). She covered one wall and then wrapped the treatment around the top of her shower (see images below for details).

The result is a warmer, natural, more textured look to her previously cold white wall. This treatment also gives her interesting mirror a chance to stand out too, whereas before it kind of blended in.

Before and After photos

How to

1. Find a wall

2. See if you can scavenge some discarded wooden slats from your local lumber mill or any other clever places you might expect to find piles of discarded construction materials. I would be tempted to check my local garbage dump because a lot of people get rid of their unwanted materials after they have finished a renovation. Some dumps will even set aside useful materials for people to come and pick up as they please. *this goes for furniture too for anyone out there looking for a thrifty patio set this spring!

3. Begin at one corner of the room, flush with the cieling or floor, and working your way around, attach your slats to the wall. Be sure to stagger them to get that interesting varied effect where the ends don’t always meet at the same point along the wall.